ISPCC urges need for individual reporting mechanism for children exposed to online harms in new Online Safety Bill


The ISPCC continues to call on government to ensure that children, young people and families can lodge individual complaints against online service providers when their rights are not respected online, as the Children’s Rights Alliance member organisation launched its Report Card 2021 highlighting the need for same.

The organisation, which provides the Childline Listening Service and Childline Therapeutic Support Service, outlined that children and young people have a right to be safe online, just as they do offline – however, this right is often not upheld and children and young people can be significantly impacted by risks including exposure to inappropriate content and potentially unseemly behaviour.

The establishment of an office of Online Safety Commissioner, as had been mooted, was not specifically provided for by the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill when it was published in December 2020, although the understanding is that one of the new Commissioners will be charged with regulating online platforms.

ISPCC Policy and Research Manager Fiona Jennings said: “For many children and young people, as for adults, life has been lived online in the past year. It is imperative that they can be safe online, however we know from those who contact Childline that this is not always the case.

“The nature of the online world, including the ease and speed at which content can be shared and re-produced, means that harms experienced on online platforms can have significantly negative and lasting impacts.

“It is essential that, when children and young people encounter risks online and cannot attain a satisfactory resolution, they have a mechanism which allows them to make an individual complaint and have their voice heard and their experience addressed in an effective and efficient manner.

“It is a poor reflection on our government’s commitment to children’s online safety that they would receive a ‘D-‘grading in this year’s Children’s Rights Alliance report card. Now, more than ever, children’s rights and protection online must be prioritised.”

The ISPCC is currently preparing its submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht where it will be strongly calling on the members of the Committee to re-examine some of the proposals within the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.  

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